After reading the E-Myth Revisited I've become a lot more attuned to the minor details of customer service, the subtle cues that define the experience of visiting a store. E-Myth says to script and specify these things rather than leave them up to chance, and I'm beginning to see why.
Annie and I went to the Sony Store, where I bought a Vaio P laptop. I need a new laptop, and it's one of the ones I'm considering, so I figured I'd buy it and return it if I didn't like it.
The sales rep who approached me was a genuinely cheerful and earnest girl with an Argentinean accent. She came up to us we were checking out the ebook readers (which I love, by the way), she helpfully demonstrated the features and answered questions well.
So far so good.
Then, abruptly, as I was trying out some of the functions, she asked, "Are you going to buy it?"
Too eager. She was concerned about her commission, not me.
We moved on to the laptop and I said I'd take it. She said she'd go to the back and get it for me and ended by saying, "You'll wait here, right?"
Again, too eager.
To make things worse, I was handed off to another salesman with no explanation, who seemed to generally resent me for buying a laptop.
After the Sony store we went to a tea shop. Both of us noticed how the tea bags were thrown into the teacup, rather than carefully placed there. The cups filled halfway with water and then we were asked if we wanted more. It's water! It's free! Just fill it up. They sold high end green tea, but steeped it in boiling water instead of the 80 degrees celcius it's meant to be steeped in.
Last night we went to a vegan restaurant called Bonny's. Starving, we were dying for food and everything on the menu looked good. I was eager to love the restaurant. I ordered the lentil burger, which came with "our own white and blue corn tortilla chips" covered in an "avalanche of salsa and avocado". The food was good, especially the salad, but the chips were clearly just store bought chips, some of which were artificially dyed red, and the "avalanche" only included a few tiny slivers of avocado. We were well fed, but couldn't help feeling like the menu was a bit dishonest.
Are these big deals?
To me, no. I still bought the laptop, the tea was excellent, and dinner was good enough. These aren't examples of colossal failure or poor customer service as much as they are examples of opportunities for the company to make me love them.
What if the tea shop filled my glass fully with the right temperature water, and the barista put the tea bag into the tea cup as if she cared? What if the POLICY of the company was for her to then come bring more hot water, without me asking, so that I could resteep my tea? I'd probably be raving about it, and would have stopped there when we passed by the next day.
What if Bonnie's chips really were home made, as the menu implied, and I really was given an avalanche of avocado, one of my favorite foods? I'd be eating there tonight instead of at Aux Vivres, a restaurant whose dishes are even better than they sound on the menu.
The moral of the story? Little things matter, especially if you subscribe to the idea that what you're really selling is an experience, not a product. You can get to "great" without worrying about the details, but probably not to excellent.